Aug 30

Apple sent out media invites yesterday for an iPhone-centric event that will be held on Wednesday, September 7 at 10:00 am at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco, California. Media invites offer up a first look at the theme of the event and feature the simple tagline: “See you on the 7th.”

sept_2016_invite

The September 2016 event is expected to see the debut of the next-generation iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, which are rumoured to feature improved cameras, better processors, and improved water resistance, implemented through the removal of the headphone jack and the introduction of a new flush, pressure-sensitive home button. Both devices are said to look similar to the iPhone 6s, with the same general size and shape, but with relocated antenna bands that no longer span the back of the devices.

Faster LTE and Wi-Fi speeds are rumoured, as is a jump in storage space with 32GB positioned as the new minimum and a 256GB option rumoured at the high-end (possibly limited to iPhone 7 Plus). Display improvements first introduced in the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, including the True Tone feature able to adjust the display to match ambient lighting could be offered, and the larger iPhone 7 Plus is expected to have exclusive features like 3GB RAM and a dual-lens camera for crisper, brighter images.

Apple may use the event to debut a second-generation Apple Watch, said to include better waterproofing, an improved processor, and a built-in GPS chip. Design changes are not expected for the next-generation Apple Watch, but new materials and new bands are always a possibility. Apple rotates its Apple Watch band offerings on a regular basis and we expect to see new designs this fall.

Most of Apple’s Mac lineup is due for an update, but the most highly anticipated machine, the MacBook Pro, will reportedly not be debuting at the event, coming later in the year instead. It’s not known if other Macs will see a refresh announcement at the event, but it’s unlikely, and we’re also not expecting any iPad announcements at this time.

We will, however, get an update on the prospective launch dates of iOS 10, macOS Sierra, watchOS 3, and tvOS 10. We’re expecting to see iOS 10 and watchOS 3 launch shortly ahead of the release date of the next-generation iPhone (rumoured to be September 16 or September 23), while macOS Sierra could come a bit later, perhaps towards the end of the month. tvOS 10, as a new operating system, could launch alongside iOS 10 or alongside macOS Sierra.

In line with past events, the September 7 event will begin at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time, that’s 6PM London. As it has done with several past events, Apple is likely to stream the event live on its website and on the Apple TV.

Jul 09

WWDC saw a developer release of iOS 10 beta. This week beta 2 was released to developers.

So what is in iOS 10 that is new and exciting?

Apple-WWDC-2016-iOS-10

Home Screen

New update notification after new iOS install
Lock screen adds new unlocked animation
A new ‘Rest Finger to Unlock’ option in Accessibility settings
Reduce White Point percentage in Accessibility settings
Folders now show badges per apps when 3D Touched
Subtle new Siri animation
Keyboard click sound back to classic sound
Time wheels make new sound
New folder animations with more blurred folders
Auto Lock now under Display and Brightness settings
New wallpaper at bottom of list in Wallpaper settings

Apps

HomeKit app icon looks like Home app icon in Settings
Apple News can now be hidden
Mail features a new filter icon instead of funnel
App Store Split View now works on the iPad
Feedback app added
Long pressing the “All Tabs” button in Safari yields “New Tab” option
Show parked location switch in Maps app Settings
New Organ Donation changes found in Health app
Bedtime interface changes in stock Clock app
New Checklist 3D Touch Shortcut for Notes app
New Today 3D Touch icon for Health

Notification Center

Missed’ is now labeled ‘Recent’
The Weather Channel credit makes a comeback
Access widgets from Notification Center on Home screen
Third-party widgets now resize properly
New Spotlight animation
Rich notifications now available for non-3D Touch devices

Music

‘Downloaded Music’ replaced with permanent ‘Downloads’
Shuffle from Songs
Connect Posts now appear below For You content
AirPlay/Bluetooth headphones and speakers available in Now Playing
Tap Artist name to reveal artist catalog
Playlists now show in search results
Dynamic text now affects the Music app

Watch

New ‘Featured Complications’ section
Smart and Random Autofill sync options for Music
Background App Refresh toggles
Use Previous Duration option in Breathe app preferences

Messages

Delete iMessage apps
iMessage App Store
New handwriting keyboard button on iPad
New Low Quality Image Mode toggle in Settings
New Digital Touch sketch layout

Sep 17

Update: The iOS 8 release date is later today. Here are the latest features from Apple.

ios8Apple is taking the flat iOS 7 design and rounding it out with new features with iOS 8, and it’ll be available to download in a few hours, two days ahead of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus launch.

That means instead of a dramatic redesign, this year’s mobile operating system update ties everything together with the overarching theme of “convergence.”

iOS 8 features tighter Mac OS X Yosemite integration while loosening the restrictions on Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint sensor. This goes a long way to the Passbook-integrated Apple Pay.

New software kits also bring once fragmented security and health gadgets together, something that this year’s “one more thing” surprise, the Apple Watch, will takes advantage of in early 2015.

Compatibility

ios-8-compatabilityWhen it comes to iOS 8 compatibility, Apple requires an iPhone 4S or newer and iPad 2 or newer to update to the latest software. Only the iPhone 4 is cut from the list.

Both the iPads mini and iPad mini 2 tablets and the forever alone iPod touch 5th generation are also going to work with the new iOS, just like they did with iOS 7. No one besides 2010’s iPhone 4 gets left behind.

It’s important to note that all of these iDevices use Bluetooth 4.0, a low-energy version of the antenna that many wearables require for constant syncing.

iOS 8 gets rid of the only iOS 7-compatible device without Bluetooth Low Energy and keeps ones that’s work with Fitbit Flex, Jawbone Up24 andNike FuelBand SE. Seems fair.

Touch ID for all

Apple’s fingerprint scanner has been limited to bypassing the lockscreen and buying iTunes Store content, but iOS 8 changes all of that as app developers get access to the five-digit login tool.

All sorts of apps will be able to use the biometric scanning home button instead of pesky passcodes. So far this only applies to the iPhone 5S, but Touch ID is likely to come to the iPhone 6, iPad Air 2, and iPad mini 3 later this year.

iOS 8 camera time-lapse mode

Believe it or not, the iPhone is consistently the most used camera in the world. It’s in so many hands and so easy to use. In iOS 8, the camera app is going to get even better.

Apple added a time-lapse camera mode to iOS 8 beta 1 in order to help users capture extended moments and automatically speed up the video with a higher frame rate.

Condensing everything road trips to candles burning down to their wick to just a few seconds in demoed in the YouTube video above.

iOS 8’s time lapse mode is basically the opposite of the slow motion video recording option at 120 frames per second that Apple added to iOS 7 last year and Slow Mo 240fps in iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

SMS and phone calls on Mac

iMessages has been a wonderful cross-compatible tool for chatting on iOS devices and Macs – at least until you try to leave your iPhone behind for an Android.

Apple deserters, however, may be lured back to iOS 8 with SMS and voice calls being folded into iPads and Macs, just like blue iMessages currently pop up on Apple tablets and computers.

It’s a pain to have to fetch your phone for a single SMS from an Android user, especially when you’re sitting in front of a 13-inch MacBook Air screen that’s fully capable of handling text messages and phone calls.

Of course, enabling text messages and phone calls to a Mac requires upgrading it to the newly announced OS X Yosemite, but that’s a piece of cake since it’ll be free and arrive around the same time as iOS 8.

Handoff and WiFi hotspot

iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite are going to be joined at the hip with the Handoff feature that lets you pick up where you left off between devices.

Starting a project or email on an iPad or iPhone will let you finish the task on a Mac with no annoying overlap. There’s no need to reopen windows or rewrite text on the computer. And it goes the other way, too, from a Mac to a an iOS 8 device.

What if you don’t have access to the internet on your computer or iPad to get the job done? That’s where the Instant HotSpot feature will come into play, easing the messy personal hotspot setup of iOS 7.

The one problem with this joint iOS 8-Yosemite feature is that it may require you to own a fairly new Mac. Handoff has been tipped to be not be compatible with Apple computers that pre-date Bluetooth 4.0.

Group messages with voice and video

Group messages is also being enhanced for iOS 8 thanks to new features. You’ll be able to add and drop people from conversations and silence non-stop incoming message annoyances via a group-specific Do Not Disturb toggle.

Sharing your location for a set period of time is also going to be a part of iMessages, essentially forking over the concept from Apple’s underused Friend My Friends app.

Location sharing, when it was part of the standalone app, was ideal for meeting up in a crowded location like a baseball stadium or concert, and now it’ll get more use within iMessages.

Multimedia within iOS 8’s iMessages app should be more useful too. Inline voice and video messages with Snapchat-like clips that self-destruct are coming to this mobile OS update.

Interactive notifications

For the times when you do actually respond to texts and calendar reminders on your phone instead of a Mac computer, iOS 8 adds convenient interactive notifications.

Like OS X Mavericks, these notifications can be dealt with in a few simple taps thanks to inline responses. There’s no need to mess with the lock screen in order to take action right away.

iOS notifications have come a long way from taking up the entire middle of our phone screens, and iOS 8 makes them feel like even less of a nuisance.

Quicktype keyboard

Apple claims its iOS 8 keyboard is its “smartest keyboard ever,” and there’s no reason to doubt that since its Quicktype feature adds highly-requested predictive texting that’s akin to SwiftKey and Swype.

The candidate row appears above the keyboard with three word-finishing suggestions and then next-word best guesses. It even varies depending on the app that’s open to match your tone for each, from casual iMessages to formal emails.

If someone asks you a question, Quicktype will also automatically offer choices like “Yes” and “No” and, optionally, learn your contacts to spell everyone’s name correctly.

Better yet, Apple won’t limit users to its pre-installed keyboard via developer “extensions.”

iOS 8 extensions

Extensions open up iOS 8 to Android’s best input methods: Swype appeared at WWDC and SwiftKey confirmed that it’s breaking free of its SwiftKey Note standalone app confines.

Other third-party extensions let users tinker with the default sharing options, photo editing tools, custom actions and notification center widgets.

The 1Password extension goes as far as opening up the company’s powerful password manager to you without the need to exit the app to open its standalone app. It simply uses Touch ID to get the job done.

Before, you had to close the app that required a password you forgot, open up 1Password’s standalone app, copy the password, go back into the original app and paste in the password.

There’s always a lot of potential when a platform as large as Apple’s opens up its ecosystem to outside developers. Look at what it did to the App Store.

Extensions by forward-thinking developers may be long overdue, but it’ll finally be here in a few weeks thanks to iOS 8.

iCloud may actually be useful

Prior to today, there was very little reason to use the ridiculously small 5GB of free space Apple included with iCloud. It was always easier to use a more capable and less expensive Dropbox account.

That all changes when iOS 8 launches alongside iCloud Drive, Apple’s new rival to Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, Microsoft OneDrive and the dozens of other file sharing services that have sprung up in recent years.

It still costs money over the 5GB limit, but at least more file types can be stored and synced. This includes documents, presentations, spreadsheets, PDFs and images.

What’s really cool about the forthcoming iCloud-enabled iOS Photos app is that every picture and every edit is saved across all of your Apple devices automatically. Better yet, there are new tools and filters in iOS 8 and it’ll work on the web.

iOS 8 Family Sharing

Maybe you’ll be more willing to buy into iCloud Drive knowing that you’re going to save money thanks to Apple’s new Family Sharing feature that’s part of iOS 8.

All iTunes, iBooks and App Store purchases on the same credit card can be shared among a total of six people in your family. That beats having to sneakily exchange passwords.

New parental controls force kids to ask your permission before aimlessly downloading expensive apps. This “Ask to Buy” feature beams a message to your device, so you don’t need to be the fun-depriving “bad guy” in person.

Other Family Sharing perks include collaborative photo albums, calendars and optional locating sharing. You can find your mom or dad and that iPhone they always misplace with this extension of Find My Friends and Find My iPhone.

‘Send Last Location’ for Find My iPhone

iOS 8 expands the geolocation capabilities of Find My iPhone with Family Sharing and Find My Friends by integrating it into iMessages, but in true Apple fashion, “that’s not all.”

A “Send Last Location” feature is being added so that your GPS coordinates are backed up to iCloud whenever your battery life is critical.

Health app

Apple didn’t announce an iWatch-tied Healthbook app at WWDC, but it did unveil a more plainly named Health app and the developer-focused HealthKit API.

It’s intended to bring together all of the fragmented health and fitness gadgets into one secure location, whether the fitness device deals with your heart rate, calories burned, blood sugar and cholesterol.

Even without a separate fitness device, Apple’s iPhone 5S M7 co-processorcalculates steps and distance traveled, and iPhone 6 may make room for new barometer and air pressure sensors, according to the latest beta.

Beta 3 also adds a caffeine intake tracking as a nutritional category, which is similar to the Jawbone Up Coffee iOS app. For extra protection, there’s an emergency card accessible from the lock screen.

Nike and the MayoClinic are on board with HealthKit in order to deposit health stats into the centralized Health app, and Withings’ Blood Pressure Monitor was a part of Apple’s WWDC presentation.

The more that existing products like the Fitbit Force and Jawbone Up24 join this initiative, the more iOS 8 users will find this to be the health equivalent to Apple’s coupon and ticket stub-collecting Passbook.

Aug 28

Reuters reports:

A U.S. judge rejected Apple Inc’s latest bid for a permanent injunction against Samsung in another sign of the diminishing impact of the smartphone patent wars.

apple v samsung Apple won a $120 million jury verdict against Samsung earlier this year over three Apple patents. However, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, on Wednesday denied Apple’s request to stop Samsung from selling infringing features on its smartphones related to those patents.

An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment. In a statement, Samsung said it welcomed the ruling. “We remain committed to providing American consumers with a wide choice of innovative products,” Samsung said.

Until this year, the two leaders in mobile technology had been engaged in global patent litigation over Samsung’s phones that use Google’s Android operating system. However, Apple and Samsung agreed earlier this month to drop all patent lawsuits outside the United States.

In her ruling on Monday, Koh ruled that Apple’s reputation as an innovator “has proved extremely robust” despite Samsung’s patent infringement.

“Apple has not demonstrated that it will suffer irreparable harm to its reputation or goodwill as an innovator without an injunction,” Koh wrote.

Samsung is still appealing the result of a blockbuster 2012 trial over a separate batch of patents, with Samsung seeking to undo $930 million in damages. And while Apple says those damages should stand, the iPhone maker is no longer asking an appeals court to revive its bid for a permanent sales ban against several older Samsung phones.

The legal battles drone on in the US while for the moment non US battles are in a truce. The real results will be found in the sales volumes of iPhone and Galaxy products. With an iPhone 6 announcement pending this could impact global volumes.

 

Aug 26

Looking like a Windows de-frag report this chart shows the Android devices in use today. The graphic was pulled from data via OpenSignal, a firm we use in network management and analysis that provided nifty mobile mapping tools.

android fragmentation

They have seen over 18,000 different Andoid devices download its Android application. That’s a lot of different hardware devices. In 2012, there were some 3,997 distinct Android devices. In 2013 that number grew to a whopping 11,868 devices with eight versions of Android in use at the time.

How bad fragmentation actually is, though, remains up for debate. On the one hand, the insane—borderline ridiculous—number of sizes and devices makes developing a widely accessible app an overwhelming task, not to mention getting the apps to run optimally on all those disparate devices. Think testing with just the most-used smartphones will suffice? Nope. OpenSignal points out that the 10 most popular devices last year covered 21 percent of the market. That number has since declined to 15 percent, so even testing an app effectively is harder than it used to be.

How does that compare to Apple iOS?

comparison with ios

Let’s not even talk about the fact that some people out there are still stubbornly stuck on Android 2.2 Froyo. When Apple CEO Tim Cook took the stage during the WWDC 2014 keynote to announce iOS 7’s crushing adoption rates over KitKat, then at only 9 percent, he did so with a smile on his face. Although OpenSignal says things have gotten a little better since then (closer to 21 percent), that still doesn’t quite compare to iOS 7’s presence on 9 out of 10 Apple devices.

And the increasing creep of sensors onto our smartphones provides another technical hurdle to work around. Although most sensors become ubiquitous over time, some can also be discontinued. One example OpenSignal points out is when the Galaxy S4 transitioned to the S5, Samsung dropped relative humidity and environmental temperature sensors in favor of a heart rate sensor and a fingerprint scanner. This constantly changing landscape of what phones can and can’t do is pretty chaotic when compared to iOS or even Windows Phone.

However! Fragmentation is, in part, what makes Android great and distinctly not Apple. The bottom line is choice for manufacturers making these phones and, you know, all of us. We can pretty much get the exact smartphone we want with Android, and it’s all made possible by fragmentation. So if you every bemoan developers who build on iOS first, remember these dizzying charts and statistics. This is just the crazy Android world we live in.

Android Vendors

The world of Android is dominated by Samsung with around 50% market share of Android devices. However there are plenty of other vendors with fingers in the Android pie.

android vendors market share

Reporting from Gizmodo and OpenSignal

Aug 06

It’s looking like Apple with announce the next iPhone on Sept 9th.

The usually reliableRe/code is reporting that Apple Inc. has scheduled its media event for Tuesday, September 9. If accurate, that would be just over a month away and almost exactly one year after last year’s iPhone 5S launch.

In recent years, Apple has used its September media event to show off the latest and greatest iPhone models, while scheduling a separate October media event dedicated to iPads. That lets Apple hog the spotlight for a good two months, potentially overshadowing any competing product announcements.

Apple typically launches new iPhone models on the following Friday, which suggests that the new iPhone(s) will be available on Friday, Sept. 19. That would make much more sense than the previously leaked October 14 date, which didn’t stand up very well to scrutiny. Oct. 14 could potentially have some other significance, as perhaps Apple will host its October event on that date.

One iPhone or two iPhones?
Last year was the first time that Apple introduced two distinct iPhone models, the 5s and 5c. While many observers have doubted the iPhone 5c and its customer reception, CEO Tim Cook recently noted that the company’s mid-tier device was the fastest growing pricing tier last quarter. See mock up below – care of 9 – 5 Mac.

ip6-mockup-2_large

As usual it remains unclear whether or not Apple will launch one or two new iPhone 6 models this time around. Expectations are already set for a 4.7-inch model as well as a 5.5-inch model. However, there have been reports that the 5.5-inch model is facing production challenges, a common storyline when it comes to new Apple products. As a result, it’s possible that Apple may not ship the 5.5-inch iPhone until later this year. Until the 9th we are just guessing.

Apple will respond to one of these trends
Apple moved to a 4-inch display in 2012 with the iPhone 5, but some consumer preferences are quickly shifting towards larger displays. Apple has seemingly acknowledged this. Internal slides dated April 2013 leaked earlier this year noted, “consumers want what we don’t have,” referring to devices with displays larger than 4-inches. The iPhone maker is aware that the “strongest demand [is] coming from less expensive and larger screen smartphones.”

There has also been speculation that Apple will increase the price of the latest iPhones as it moves to larger displays. The company may choose to add $100 to the subsidized price when purchased on contract, bringing the final price tag up to $299. Apple may enjoy success with the possible price increase though, as the industry is quickly moving towards installment plans thanks to T-Mobile. Installment plans actually make consumers less price sensitive, which will likely lead to tremendous upgrade activity within Apple’s loyal customer base.

Don’t forget iOS 8

With a preview of iOS8 at the WWDC conference we know what to expect but that should also be available as an upgrade to iPhone users the same day.

Jul 10

Apple announces that development on Aperture, its professional-grade photo editing app, has terminated and that Yosemite will include a Photo app. How good will this be?

The news was confirmed by Jim Dalrymple of The Loop, who also revealed that iPhoto, Apple’s consumer-level photo app, will be discontinued as well.

Both applications are due to be replaced by Apple’s forthcoming Photos application, which will be included with iOS 8 and eventually bundled with OS X Yosemite, although the Mac version isn’t set to launch until early 2015, some months after Yosemite ships.

Apple new photo applicationApple did make it clear that development of its other pro products, Logic Pro and Final Cut Pro will continue.

“With the introduction of the new Photos app and iCloud Photo Library, enabling you to safely store all of your photos in iCloud and access them from anywhere, there will be no new development of Aperture,” said Apple in its statement. “When Photos for OS X ships next year, users will be able to migrate their existing Aperture libraries to Photos for OS X.”

Since the last upgrade to Aperture the library structure of iPhoto and Aperture are identical allowing users to open images and libraries in both Applications.

The company also said that it will provide compatibility updates to Aperture, allowing it to run on OS X Yosemite. However, further support will not exist after that.

Apple also said it is working with Adobe to help users transition to its Lightroom app for Mac. Adobe are of course overjoyed to be given the opportunity to pitch to Apple users.

Adobe says that it will ‘double down’ on Lightroom support and offer Apple users a way to migrate:

Put simply we’re doubling down on our investments in Lightroom and the new Creative Cloud Photography plan and you can expect to see a rich roadmap of rapid innovation for desktop, web and device workflows in the coming weeks, months and years. We also continue to invest actively on the iOS and OSX platforms, and are committed to helping interested iPhoto and Aperture customers migrate to our rich solution across desktop, device and web workflows.

Apple new photo app

Adobe offer Lighroom as a subscription service from £8.78 / month in the UK.

Included with the reports was a new picture of the OS X Photos application, as seen above. From the picture, it would appear that the application has a “prosumer” layout. The app is also shown with a darker user interface, which is different from the predominantly white app shown off at the Worldwide Developers Conference earlier this month.

Aperture hasn’t seen a major update since 2010, when version 3.0 of the suite launched with 64-bit support, along with “Faces” and “Places” for sorting pictures. Its chief competitor for professional photographers is Adobe’s Lightroom.

As for iPhoto, its last major update came in 2011, as part of the iLife ’11 suite release. iPhoto also debuted on the iPad in 2012, and later came to Apple’s iPhone for more advanced photo editing on the go.

With OS X Yosemite to ship in the Fall we don’t have that long to wait. As users of Aperture we are interested in this development.

Feb 20

With iPhones and iPads selling in record numbers Apple is selling more computing devices than all of Microsoft’s Windows licensees put together.

As noted by leading market analyst Benedict Evans, Apple’s combined production of iDevices – Mac, iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, peaked in the December quarter at a level slightly higher than all Windows PCs put together, or essentially equal with PCs combined with Windows Phone shipments.

Such sales volumes were unthinkable for Apple only a few years ago. While the company’s Mac desktops and notebooks were growing significantly in the mid 2000s, they still remained in the realm of a million or two systems each year, in contrast to annual PC shipments well above 200 million.

ios and windows shipments

Mac gets big by going small

In 2007, Apple began selling a new kind of Macintosh, the iPhone Version 1: a handheld device running the same core OS (it was even called “iPhone OS X” in the beginning) and using a mobile-optimized version of the Mac’s NeXT-derived Cocoa app development frameworks. By the end of the first iPhone year, Apple added iPod touch, it’s first iPod based on Mac technology like the iPhone rather than a simple, imbedded OS.

Without phone features, iPod touch acted more like a general purpose computing system, attracting many users who were already committed to using their company’s Blackberry or a simpler phone tied to a provider, and simply couldn’t switch to an iPhone. That boosted the volumes of games and other app sales in the App Store, supporting iPhone growth and paving the way for a larger new table form factor.

In 2010, developers’ enthusiasm surrounding Apple’s rapidly expanding iOS platform was extended to iPad, which worked like a larger format iPod touch to broaden the reach and utility of Apple’s platform that proved to be effortlessly easy to use, manage and deploy.
The most notable aspect of Apple’s growth is that its Macs continue to maintain an premium Average Selling Price of $1300 and its iPhones remain above $650, in a PC market where Microsoft’s PC makers struggle to find customers with PCs priced at an average of $311, and where Windows Phones sell at an ASP of just $301.

 

Apple scores in profit rankings

Apple’s ability to surpass Microsoft’s Windows sales volume via mobile growth can also be compared to Android. Like Windows, Google’s Android platform (and the many variants of the software used by companies from Amazon to Chinese vendors unaffiliated with Google) is broadly used as an alternative to companies creating their own custom development platforms.

With this fragmenting, Android lacks the platform strength of Windows, because Google is unable to exercise much control over its licensees, despite attempts to do so.

Google also earns very little from Android as a platform compared to Microsoft’s Windows PC licensing, and essentially nothing compared to Apple’s far more lucrative, hardware-driven profits from iOS. Android’s phone ASP has now dropped to $276 as the majority of “smartphones” using the system apply it in a feature phone role on extremely low end devices with no upgrade potential.

Last year, Samsung said it planned to ship 100 million higher-end Galaxy S and Note models within 2013. Apple sold 153.4 million iPhones alone in 2013, without counting iPod touch, iPad mini or full size iPads.

Apple obviously earned more than Samsung in selling high end phones throughout 2013, but also earned far more (an order of magnitude more) on sales of Macs and iPads, a general computing market where Samsung fails to earn much money at all.

Add in every other Android maker’s higher end phones and profit-to-volumes ratio falls even faster, as most Android licensees, including Google’s own Motorola subsidiary, have been consistently losing money. Google’s Motorola subsidiary reported losing $1.245 billion in 2013 alone, despite tech media predictions about how Moto X and its siblings would undercut Apple’s iPhone and take over via volume sales to third world countries.

Particularly hysterical in retrospect is the August 2013 article by Steven Levy of Wired, which just months ago faithfully reiterated Google’s talking points explaining how the phone would launch a new epoch of smartphones justifying the $12.5 billion price tag Google had paid for Motorola. Instead the device proved to be a dismal failure. Google is now spinning Motorola as “successful” divestiture.

Oct 16

As expected. with 2 week notice, Apple sent out invitations to the waiting media for a press event on Oct 22nd.

The show will be in San Francisco at the Yerba Buena Centre at 10:00 AM local or 6:00 PM London time. As reported a week ago by All Things D and expected to showcase new toys for Christmas including new iPad mini, new iPad Retina, the release of new MAC Pro and the release of the next version of the Apple Operating System that leaves big cats behind and switches to towns in California with the first one being the fine city of Mavericks.

Apple oct_22_2013_invite

Sep 22

iOS7 – This and 64Bit hardware are the real Apple news.

iphone5sThe big Apple news this week might seem to be the iPhone 5S with fingerprint security. But in reality the software platform that Apple call iOS 7 is the bigger news

This is the latest operating system update for iPhones (iPhone 4 and later), iPads (iPad 2 and later) and iPod Touches (fifth generation). It’s a radical, huge redesign. Its master architect was Jonathan Ive, the English, long time Apple designer who has brought us astonishing hardware designs for many years; now, for the first time, he’s been put in charge of a whole software look.

The look of iOS 7 is sparse, white — almost plain in spots. No more fake leather, fake woodgrain, fake green felt, fake yellow note paper. It’s all blue Helvetica Neue against white.

The complete absence of graphic embellishments makes it especially utilitarian — in both senses of the word. That’s good, because whatever button or function you need is easier to find, the text is easier to read and the design is totally consistent. All screens share the same look.

ios7 multi tasking

Then again, the new look is primarily visible at the Home screen, where a jarringly different color palette greets you on the Apple app icons, and on the options screen. The rest of the time, you’ll be using your regular apps, many of which will look no different from before.

The look of iOS 7 may grab you or not. But once the fuss about the visuals dies down, something even more important comes into focus: the work that’s been done on making iOS better. The longer you spend with the new OS, the more you’re grateful for the fixing and de-annoyifying on display.

For example, you no longer have to burrow into infinitely nested Settings screens to adjust your control panels. Now you can just speak what you want, using Siri: “Open Wi-Fi settings,” for example, or “Open brightness settings.”

Or, when speaking to your phone isn’t socially appropriate, you can swipe upward from the bottom of the screen to open the Control Centre: a compact, visual palette of controls for the settings and functions you’re most likely to need: brightness, volume, Bluetooth, WiFi, Airplane Mode, Play/Pause Music, calculator, camera, and — my favourite — Flashlight. This panel slides in over whatever app you’re using, so you don’t lose your place.

This idea — swiping in from the margins of the phone — also plays out in the new Back gesture. The iPhone doesn’t have a Back button, as Android phones do. But now you can swipe in from the left margin of the phone to go back one screen. It works in Mail, Settings, Notes, Messages, Safari, Facebook and some other apps. It’d be great if worked in every app.

The iPhone has never had a system-wide Search button, either, but here again, Apple has made some strides. The Search screen is no longer off to the left of the Home screens; now it’s above them — all of them. From any Home screen, you can swipe downward from the phone’s top margin to open the Spotlight search screen.

Reducing steps seems to be a running theme in this release.

To turn on Private Browsing in Safari, for example, you used to have to open the Settings app, burrow around, find the on-off switch, then return to the browser. Now the Private Button is right in Safari, where it belongs.

The Camera app has gained a better design. Now you swipe across the preview screen to switch among modes: Video, Slow-motion video (on the iPhone 5s), still photos, Square photos with Instagram-type filters, and Panorama. It’s easy to learn and use, but it does mean that it’s harder to open a photo you’ve just taken for inspection. (Swiping to the right used to make it appear; now you have to tap the tiny thumbnail button in the corner.)

There was supposed to be a password- and credit-card memorizing feature that would make it much easier to buy stuff and fill in forms on the Web, like the LastPass, 1Password or Dashlane apps. And this information would sync across all your Apple gadgets. But it mysteriously disappeared in the release version; Apple says it will reappear in a few weeks, at about the same time as OS X “Mavericks.”

The new iTunes Radio is here, though, and it’s very good. The idea is exactly like Pandora; you choose a “seed” song, performer or musical genre, and it plays nonstop songs in that style. But it’s not as sophisticated as Pandora, and not nearly as powerful as Spotify; on iTunes Radio, you can’t explicitly request a certain song or album by name.

Still, having it built in is nice. For example, you can say, “Play Soft Guitar radio,” or whatever you’ve named your “seed”-based station, to start it up.

As with Pandora, the free version subjects you to a brief audio ad every now and then; also as with Pandora, you can pay for an ad-free version. It’s $25 a year — part of Apple’s existing iTunes Match service.

Siri, over all, is much better. The voice sounds more natural, and you have a choice of male or female. Apple did a lot of work “on the back-end,” so that Siri responds much faster to commands. The Siri screens are redesigned to look nicer. And Siri can do more things.

ios7 lock screen

Key new features:

• Internet phone calls. Now free, high-quality voice calls (to other Apple phones, tablets and Macs) are built right in. Apple calls it Audio-Only FaceTime.

• Carpenter’s Level. The Compass app now has a three-dimensional level in it!

• Auto-app updates. You can opt to have new versions of your apps downloaded and installed automatically, in the background. The App Store app keeps a list of everything you’ve received.

• Today screen. As on Android, there’s a single screen that lists everything that’s happening today: your next appointment, today’s weather, reminders due, whose birthday it is and so on. (Right now, mine says: “It looks busy right now. There are 3 events scheduled, and the first one starts at 7:30 am.”)

• Smarter Wi-Fi network alerts. If you’re driving, iOS 7 on the new iPhone 5s no longer keeps announcing that it’s discovered new Wi-Fi networks. Obviously, you’re moving too fast to hop onto any of them, so this is a smart little tweak.

• Photos. The app that displays all your photos used to be a single endless scroll of tiny thumbnails. Navigationally speaking, it was really pretty useless. Now it self-assembles into clusters by year, by month and by occasion (based on time and location data). Sooooo much better.

• Maps. Apple still has work to do before its Maps app has anywhere near the quality of Google’s Maps app. Apple’s Maps still can’t give you directions using public transportation, but at least it now has walking directions. And when you’re driving at night, Maps automatically enters Night Mode, in which the map itself is dark instead of very bright.

• Global Type Size control. For the first time, there’s a slider that controls the font size in all your apps. Well, all of them that have been rewritten to hook into this feature, anyway. So far, it’s mostly just Apple’s built-in apps.

• Activation Lock. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. If some thug steals your phone, it’s worthless to him unless he enters your Apple password. Even if he tries to erase it, even if he jailbreaks it, even if he force-reinstalls the operating system. Thousands of iPhones will not be stolen now, because thieves will learn that they’ll be “bricked” without your password. (To make this work, you have to turn on the “Find My iPhone” feature. Which you should do anyway.)

Lets take a look at the main new changes to the iPhone look and operation:

BOLD NEW LOOK

Apple has completely overhauled the look of iOS with version 7, starting from the lock screen and extending to the icons of default apps, system fonts, status bar indicators, system elements like Notification Centre and more. There are new sounds, too, including ringtones and notification cues, in case a host of new info for your eyeballs to process wasn’t enough.

ios7 home screen

The look is bound to be controversial; Apple has opted for bright, bold colours with more clean lines and far fewer textures, shadows and gradients. There is still some depth to the OS, however, with transparency effects giving a sense of background and foreground elements (the dock row is an opaque rectangle through which your home screen wallpaper is visible, for instance).

CONTROL CENTER

This is a brand new feature for iOS 7, and one that’s incredibly useful. The Control Centre provides quick access to commonly-used settings toggles including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Rotation Lock and Do Not Disturb mode, as well as to the media player controls, AirDrop and AirPlay, and some key apps including Calculator, Timer and Camera. There’s also a new torch of flashlight that turns on the flash. Handy for late night or plugging the elusive USB cable into the back of a PC.

ios7 control centre

 

Control Centre simplifies and makes much more useful what was a somewhat confusingly arranged media player/AirPlay/brightness & volume control quick access feature attached to the app drawer in iOS 6. Separating it from that function and making it accessible throughout the iOS user interface via a simple swipe up from bottom is a really big improvement.

AIRDROP

Apple’s AirDrop feature made its debut on the Mac, as a feature addition to OS X. Now the simple sharing service makes its mobile debut, allowing them to share files with anyone on the same network with a single tap. The recipient then approves the request, and the file is added to their own iPhone.

ios7 air drop

It’s a very easy method for sharing pictures from one device to a family member’s or friend’s, and requires fewer steps than sending an email. You can make AirDrop available to anyone on your current network, or lock it down to just your Contacts. This feature is great, but leaves me wishing Apple had set it up to work between iOS and Mac, which isn’t yet possible.

SIRI

Aside from a visual update, like the one everything in iOS 7 is getting, Siri adds new voices designed to make it seem more human, and additional data sources including Bing, Wikipedia and Twitter. It can now return phone calls, playback voicemail and generally do more that you’d like a hands-free assistant to be able to do, perhaps while driving, for instance.

The additions to Siri have prompted Apple to remove its beta tag, and indeed it does seem more generally useful, and pushes you out to exterior sources far less frequently, which is good because it leads to far less of a “let me Google that for you” effect. I’m not sure Siri is quite the virtual assistant I want it to be just yet, but it’s getting there.

ios7 siri

MULTITASKING

Apple’s multitasking hasn’t been great in the past, acting basically as a quick app switcher. In iOS 7, the multitasking gets smarter, learning your habits and updating content in the background depending on when you regularly use your apps, and when you’re connected to power and Wi-Fi, so as to avoid data and energy burn.

ios7 multi tasking

 

The new app switcher design is also much better, showing you a preview of the app in the state it was in at close, rather than just a completely static app icon that tells you nothing at all. Swipe up to close open apps from this screen. These features may be familiar to webOS users, but they’re smart, no matter where they came from.

SAFARI

Apple’s mobile web browser gets an overhaul with iOS 7, one which lets the chrome melt into the background. When you’re on a page, the address bar and bottom navigation bar fade away, giving you a full-screen experience. The address bar is also finally a unified search bar, too, which is cause enough to break out the piñata and celebrate.

ios7 safari

Apple has also put a private browser right in the main app, meaning you won’t have to go to Settings every time you want to get incognito, and there’s a new tab browser that lets you page through and view multiple open tabs at once much more easily. Shared links uses the built-in iOS Twitter integration to gather a reading list from the people you follow on that social network, which is a nice built-in content discovery twist.

CAMERA

Apple’s iOS camera software is brand new in 7, with an interface that brings all modes out into the open instead of hiding features behind buttons. Even though everything’s now a scroll away at most, the interface is very different from the one it replaces, and this could cause some hiccups for new users.

The key component to be aware of is the new slider for different camera functions – video at the far left, and panorama at the far right. It may not be immediately apparent that this list of modes is itself scrollable, as there’s no obvious arrows or control buttons.

ios7 camera

ios7 camera video

Other changes here are the presence of live filters, which you can apply before filming, and the ability to take burst shots and slow motion video on the iPhone 5s. All phones capable of installing iOS 7 get a variant of burst mode, in fact, which takes pictures in rapid succession, but not at the 10fps rate of the iPhone 5s, and without the auto selection feature that suggests which shot is best.

In the 5s, people will really notice a difference with much faster auto-focus, faster capture and other improvements.

PHOTOS

Apple’s new photos app applies some basic organizational logic to your picture library, making it easier to find specific moments, and to browse based on locations and date, which is much better than having to organize events yourself. You can zoom out and see your entire history of mobile photos as measured in years, too.

ios7 photo library

Other improvements include the addition of a shared photo album tab, which works with iCloud photo sharing, and photo maps that allow you to browse your picture history on a built-in Apple Map. It’s a lot more interesting than the fairly boring interface it replaces.

ITUNES RADIO

iTunes is the leading source of digital music content, so Apple introducing iTunes radio, a no-limits streaming service available free via an ad-supported model, or without ads if you’re an iTunes Match subscriber is a big deal. This is a U.S. account-holder only service, so international iOS 7 users will have to wait, probably until licensing agreements are put in place.

The recommendations iTunes Radio serves up based on genres and artists I like were very (frighteningly?) accurate, and that makes for a thoroughly enjoyable lean-back listening experience. I’m still an Rdio fan when it comes to streaming music services, and their new personalized radio stations are also impressive, but Apple will provide everything most users need in custom Internet radio with this new feature, which is also available in an upcoming iTunes update on the desktop.

NOTIFICATION CENTER

The new Notification Centre in iOS 7 is a big change from the previous version. There’s a new “Today” panel that shows you events and birthdays going on for any given day, as well as weather conditions, stocks, and upcoming things to note for the next day, including alarms and calendar events.

Swiping brings you to the list of “All” and “Missed” notifications, which shows you things sent by your apps, either in total, or just those that are new since the last time you checked your device. In settings, you can turn off or on each element of the “Today” view, and limit lock screen access to both that and your general notifications list.

IMG_2177

Today is a part of notification center that has some real potential, especially if Apple broadens its functions and makes it more of a Google Now competitor, but overall the Notification Center update isn’t all that exciting. Notifications themselves still seem mostly not super useful, so perhaps providing more context or similar is the way to go.

APP STORE AND FIND MY IPHONE

Apple has provided some small updates to the App Store and to Find My iPhone with iOS 7, including tools that make it easier to protect and recover lost or stolen devices.

The App Store has a new “Popular near me” feature, which so far hasn’t been showing all that much beyond transit apps based on my location. It’s another way of making discovery easier on the iPhone’s ever-growing software library, though, and with use it’ll likely get more intelligent. Plus, if you’re a visitor looking for relevant apps in a new spot, transit information apps would be high on the list.

ios7 app store

Find My iPhone gets new advanced security features, like the inability to wipe or turn off Find My iPhone without an Apple ID or password. It can also display a message on a device that’s been wiped, so you don’t need to choose between trying to recover your lost hardware and protecting your data. Plus, anyone with your phone will have to enter your Apple ID and password to make it usable again. All of these are great features that address the growing savvy of criminals around Find My iPhone and how to circumvent it.

ALL THE REST

There’s a lot more going on in iOS 7, including new sounds, dynamic wallpapers, changes to the design of Calendar, Notes, Reminders and more, but the big shifts that go beyond new design are those listed above. There’s no question that iOS 7 will be a dramatic change from the iOS many users already know and love, but on balance it’s an update packed with plenty of new features that make using Apple’s mobile devices easier and more enjoyable.

ios7 devices

iOS users with an iPhone 4 or later, iPad 2 or later, iPad mini and iPod touch (5th generation) will be able to download the update, but Apple hasn’t put a specific time on when exactly, so watch this space for updates.

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